Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3211548 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 12, 1965
Filing dateNov 21, 1962
Priority dateNov 23, 1961
Also published asDE1295194B
Publication numberUS 3211548 A, US 3211548A, US-A-3211548, US3211548 A, US3211548A
InventorsClaude Beguin, Klaus Schuett, Walter Scheller
Original AssigneeCiba Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Process for the production of tantalum or niobium in a hydrogen plasma jet
US 3211548 A
Abstract  available in
Images(1)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Oct. 12, 1965 w. SCHELLER ETAL 3,211,548

PROCESS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF TANTALUM OR NIOBIUM IN A HYDROGEN PLASMA JET Filed Nov. 21. 1962 United States Patent 3,211,548 PROCESS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF TANTALUM OR NIOBIUM IN A HYDROGEN PLASMA JET Walter Scheller, Muenchenstein, Claude Beguin, Basel, and Klaus Schuett, Zollikerberg, Switzerland, assignors to Ciba Limited, Basel, Switzerland, a company of Switzerland Filed Nov. 21, 1962, Ser. No. 239,166 Claims priority, application Switzerland, Nov. 23, 1961, 13,6 65 6 1 7 Claims. '(CI. 75-84) The term plasma as used in gas discharge physics describes a partially or completely ionized gas. When the plasma as a whole has a directional velocity, this is referred to as a plasma jet. Such a plasma jet can be produced, for example, by blowing a gas through an electric arc. In this way temperatures of 20,000 C. and higher can be attained. The velocity may range from a few metres per second to a multiple of the speed of sound.

It is known that chemical reactions can be performed in a plasma jet. Using this process, thermal decompositions, halogenations and conversions of metals or metalloids into their nitrides and reductions with carbon have been carried out; cf. inter alia, The Plasma let in Scientific American 197, 1957, No. 2, pages 80 et seq.

It is also known that the gas plasma may consist of an inert gas or of a reactive gas. When, for example, argon is used the resulting plasma jet serves only as a source of heat; when, on the other hand, nitrogen or oxygen is used the resulting gas not only has a high temperature but it is also capable of undergoing chemical conversions under suitable conditions. When a carbon or graphite anode is used, reactions with carbon can be performed in the plasma jet.

It has now been found that compounds of tantalum or niobium can be reduced in a plasma jet when the plasma jet is produced with the use of hydrogen gas and when the plasma jet contains a finely dispersed, condensed substance, that is to say a substance having so low a vapour pressure that no appreciable vaporisation occurs.

The present invention provides a process for reducing tantalum pentachloride or niobium pentachloride with hydrogen, wherein the chloride or a mixture of the chlorides is injected into a hydrogen plasma and the reaction is performed in the presence of a condensed substance dispersed in the hydrogen jet.

Tantalum or niobium can be produced by the present process in an economical manner. Compared with the processes previously known for reducing these metals, for example the electrolytic or thermite process or the gas phase reduction with hydrogen at a low temperature, or by the fluidised bed process, the present process offers the great advantage that the metals are obtained in a very pure form and that the precipitated metals do not form increasing deposits on the wall of the reduction vessel but are deposited in the form of fine powders or granulates. Moreover, owing to the high temperature and hydrogen throughout per unit time relatively large amounts of chloride are reduced when the reaction is performed as a continuous operation.

The chlorides may be reduced either completely until the element concerned is obtained or taken to a stage at which the element occurs in a lower valency in the compound formed.

The presence of a finely dispersed, condensed, for ex- 3,211,548 Patented Oct. 12, 1965 ice ample solid, substance olfers various advantages: The metal formed in the gas plasma jet is enabled to grow at least to some extent on the particles of the finely dispersed substance. When the dispersed substance is tantalum or niobium powder, these particles grow as the same metal deposits progressively on them and the final product is substantially pure tantalum or niobium respectively. When particles of another substance are used, tantalum or niobium form a coating on them.

The presence of the solid substance extends the length of the hot zone in which the reduction and the condensation takes place.

Instead of the pure pentachlorides it is possible to re duce mixtures prepared from the crude minerals.

The condensed substance used in the present process may be injected into the plasma jet as it is, or a substance may be so injected which under the conditions produced by the plasma jet is converted into the condensed, finely dispersed state. The finely dispersed substance is in the form of fine, inconspicuous particles having an average diameter of less than 500 microns. As finely dispersed substances there are suitable oxides, carbides, nitrides or more especially metals or metalloids. Advantageously, the finely dispersed substance can be a heavy metal, a carbide and an oxide of a heavy metal. Suitable oxides are tantalum oxide, uranous oxide, quartz and alumina, as carbides, boron carbide and silicon carbide, as nitride, aluminium nitride and as metals and metalloids respectively: tantalum, niobium, canadium, tungsten, titanium, molybdenum, nickel, iron, uranium, platinum, boron, carbon or silicon. Substances which, like tantalum pentoxide or quartz, can be reduced with hydrogen but are not intended to be reduced, are injected into the plasma jet in a manner such that they do not have sufficient time left to undergo an appreciable reaction with hydrogen. Depending on the conditions used the time of contact between the finely dispersed substance and the plasma jet ranges from 10 to 10* second.

The plasma jet is produced with the use of a powerful electric arc in a so-called plasma generator which is advantageously designed on the known principle and comprises a water-cooled, pierced copper anode and a cooled tungsten cathode.

A diagrammatic layout of a plasma jet generator is shown in side elevation in the figure, in which 1 is the hydrogen inlet (hydrogen is generally injected at right angles to the axis of the plasma jet; the rate of hydrogen supply may be varied within wide limits); 2 is the watercooled cathode which should advantageously be variable for position; 3 is the cooled anode; 4 represents the plasma jet produced; 5 is the inlet of the finely dispersed substance; 6 is the reactor and 7 the waste gas duct; the chlo-,

ride to be reduced is injected into the plasma jet at 8.

The chloride of tantalum or niobium respectively is advantageously injected into the plasma jet through an inlet tube of quartz. If desired a current of hydrogen or preferably of argon may be used for transporting the chloride. As a rule, the reduction in the plasma jet is carried out under atmospheric pressure but, if desired, reduced pressure may be used. When the substance constituting the finely dispersed phase is used from the start in the condensed form, for example as a metal powder, it is of advantage to inject it with the aid of a current of argon gas. When, on the other hand, the substance constituting the disperse phase is only converted into the condensed form in situ, it may be added to the plasma jet without using a carrier gas. The points where the chloride and the substance forming the finely dispersed phase are most advantageously injected into the plasma jet should be determined by way of preliminary tests. As a rule, the substance constituting the finely dispersed phase will be injected immediately past the anode and then, at a short distance from that point, the chloride is introduced. According to a preferred manner of performing the present process the chloride, in admixture with the finely dispersed substance, is injected into the plasma jet in the vicinity of the anode outlet. As the distance from the anode increases, the temperature drops. The places at which the finely dispersed substance and the chloride are added should be so chosen as to produce a temperature of 2000 to 5000 C. The amounts of chloride and dispersed substance to be injected into the plasma jet depend on the size, temperature and velocity of the plasma jet and also on the kind and state of the substances supplied. The expert will have no difficulty in establishing the optimum conditions by relevant preliminary tests.

EXAMPLE 1 Production tantalum The luminous plasma jet (Balmer lines) had an average velocity of about 1500 meters per second at the anode exit, a length of 2 to 3 cm. and at the anode exit an average temperature of about 3300 C. At a distance of 1 cm. from the anode about 12 g. of tantalum powder (particle size below 42 microns) per minute were injected into the flame with the aid of a current of argon. The tantalum particles formed a luminous jet of to 15 cm. length. At approximately the same distance from the anode a mixture of vaporised tantalum pentachloride and argon was injected through a heated quartz nozzle into the plasma jet. The amount of injected tantalum pentachloride was about 25 g. per minute. On completion of the reaction it was found by sieve analysis that part of the tantalum produced had grown on the injected metal.

EXAMPLE 2 Growing niobium on tantalum A pulverulent mixture of equal parts by weight of niobium pentachloride and of tantalum metal is injected directly past the anode outlet into the plasma jet described in Example 1. The test conditions used are as follows:

Current 180 amperes.

Voltage of arc 94 volts.

Total output 16.9 kilowatts.

H throughput 39 liters (measured under 760 mm. Hg. pressure at 0 C.) per minute.

When the powder formed was examined it was found that the tantalum particles Contain about 2.5% of precipitated niobium.

l EXAMPLE 3 Growing niobium 0n uranous oxide (U0 The procedure is as described in Example 2, except that the injected mixture consists of uranous oxide and niobium pentachloride in the weight ratio 1:2.

The conditions used are as follows:

Current 220 amperes. Voltage of arc 107 volts.

Total output 23.5 kilowatts.

H throughput 74 liters (measured under 760 mm. Hg. pressure at 0 C.)

Time of contact of uranous oxide Abt. 10* second.

particles with plasma jet Particle size Below a.

When the powder formed was examined it was found that the uranous oxide particles contain about 5% of precipitated niobium.

EXAMPLE 4 Growing niobium 0n uranium carbide (UC The dispersed substance used is uranium carbide and the chloride is niobium pentachloride in the weight ratio of 1:2. The reduction is performed as described in Example 3, and yields uranium carbide particles on which a deposit of about 3% of niobium has formed.

What is claimed is:

1. A process for reducing a metal chloride with hydrogen selected from the group consisting of tantalum pentachloride and niobium pentachloride in which process the chloride is introduced into a hydrogen plasma and the reduction is carried out in the presence of a condensed substance, having a vapor pressure which enables the substance to remain substantially in condensed state at reaction conditions, having a particle size smaller than 500 microns and being dispersed in the hydrogen jet, the contact of the dispersed substance with the hydrogen jet ranges from 10* to lO second and the reaction temperature is between 2000 and 5000 C.

2. A process for reducing tantalum pentachloride with hydrogen in which process the chloride is introduced into a hydrogen plasma and the reduction is carried out in the presence of a condensed substance, having a vapor pressure which enables the substance to remain substantially in condensed state at reaction conditions, having a particle size smaller than 500 microns and being dispersed in the hydrogen jet, the contact of the dispersed substance with the hydrogen jet ranges from 1O to 10 second and the reaction temperature is between 2000 and 5000 C.

3. A process for reducing a metal chloride with hydrogen selected from the group consisting of tantalum pentachloride and niobium pentachloride in which process the chloride is introduced into a hydrogen plasma and the reduction is carried out in the presence of a condensed substance, having a vapor pressure which enables the substance to remain substantially in condensed state at reaction conditions, having a particle size smaller than 500 microns and being dispersed in the hydrogen jet, which condensed substance is selected from the group consisting of a heavy metal, a carbide and an oxide of a heavy metal, the contact of the dispersed substance with the hydrogen jet ranges from 10* to 10- second and the reaction temperature is between 2000 and 5000 C.

4. A process for reducing tantalum pentachloride with hydrogen in which process the chloride is introduced into a hydrogen plasma and the reduction is carried out in the presence of a condensed substance, having a vapor pressure which enables the substance to remain substantially in condensed state at reaction conditions, having a particle size smaller than 500 microns and being dispersed in the hydrogen jet, which condensed substance is selected from the group consisting of a heavy metal, a carbide and an oxide of a heavy metal, the contact of the dispersed substance with the hydrogen jet ranges from to 10* second and the reaction temperature is between 2000 and 5000 C.

5. A process for reducing tantalum chloride with hydrogen to tantalum metal in which process the chloride is introduced into a hydrogen plasma and the reduction is carried out in the presence of tantalum powder having a particle size smaller than 500 microns and being dispersed in the hydrogen jet, the contact of the dispersed tantalum with the hydrogen jet ranges from 10- to 10* second and the reaction temperature is between 2000 and 5000 C.

6. A process for reducing niobium chloride with hydrogen to niobium metal in which process the chloride is introduced into a hydrogen plasma and the reduction is carried out in the presence of tantalum powder having a particle size smaller than 500 microns and being dispersed in the hydrogen jet, the contact of the dispersed tantalum with the hydrogen jet ranges from 10* to 10- 'second and the reaction temperature is between 2000 and 5000 C.

7. A process for reducing niobium chloride with hydrogen to niobium metal in which process the chloride is introduced into a hydrogen plasma and the reduction is carried out in the presence of uranous oxide having a particle size smaller than 500 microns and being dispersed in the hydrogen jet, the contact of the dispersed uranous oxide with the hydrogen jet ranges from 10- to 10- second and the reaction temperature is between 2000 and 5000 C.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,761,776 9/56 Bich-owsky -84 CARL D. QUARFORTH, Primary Examiner.

REUBEN EPSTEIN, Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2761776 *Mar 29, 1956Sep 4, 1956Von Bichowsky FoordProcess for the manufacture of particulate metallic niobium
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3366090 *Apr 7, 1966Jan 30, 1968Air Force UsaGlow discharge vapor deposition apparatus
US3442690 *May 13, 1964May 6, 1969Minnesota Mining & MfgCoating solid particles with refractory metals
US3475158 *Jun 7, 1966Oct 28, 1969Neuenschwander ErnstProduction of particulate,non-pyrophoric metals and product
US3480426 *Jun 7, 1966Nov 25, 1969Starck Hermann C FaProduction of particulate,non-pyrophoric metals
US3533756 *Nov 15, 1966Oct 13, 1970Hercules IncSolids arc reactor method
US3533777 *Nov 2, 1966Oct 13, 1970Commw Scient Ind Res OrgProduction of metals from their halides
US3810637 *Jan 14, 1972May 14, 1974Mecanique Ind IntShaft packing
US3814447 *Nov 2, 1972Jun 4, 1974Ramsey CorpSealing element for use in internal combustion engines
US3886896 *Jul 9, 1974Jun 3, 1975Tellecommunications Cit AlcateDevice for plasma depositing of thin layers onto substrates
US3906892 *Nov 21, 1973Sep 23, 1975Cit AlcatelPlasma deposition of thin layers of substrated or the like
US3974245 *Apr 25, 1975Aug 10, 1976Gte Sylvania IncorporatedProcess for producing free flowing powder and product
US4050147 *Apr 13, 1976Sep 27, 1977Winter Kunststoff Heinr JMethod for the production of ductile and stable particle-superconductors
US4356029 *Dec 23, 1981Oct 26, 1982Westinghouse Electric Corp.Alkali(ne earth) metal reactant, projecting, melting, blowing, dropping
US4410358 *Dec 13, 1982Oct 18, 1983Thermo Electron CorporationPlasma recovery of tin from smelter dust
US4526610 *Apr 1, 1983Jul 2, 1985Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki KaishaMetal cored ceramic surfaced fine powder material and apparatus and method for making it
US5100463 *Jul 19, 1990Mar 31, 1992Axel Johnson Metals, Inc.Method of operating an electron beam furnace
US5222547 *Nov 14, 1991Jun 29, 1993Axel Johnson Metals, Inc.Intermediate pressure electron beam furnace
US5749937 *Mar 14, 1995May 12, 1998Lockheed Idaho Technologies CompanyFast quench reactor and method
US6821500Feb 12, 2001Nov 23, 2004Bechtel Bwxt Idaho, LlcThermal synthesis apparatus and process
US7097675Mar 27, 2002Aug 29, 2006Battelle Energy Alliance, LlcDiatomic hydrogen and unsaturated hydrocarbons are produced as reactor gases in a fast quench reactor, during fast quenching unsaturated hydrocarbons are further decomposed by reheating the reactor gases, more hydrogen is produced elemental carbon
US7354561Nov 17, 2004Apr 8, 2008Battelle Energy Alliance, LlcChemical reactor and method for chemically converting a first material into a second material
US7399335Mar 22, 2005Jul 15, 2008H.C. Starck Inc.Method of preparing primary refractory metal
US7576296May 11, 2004Aug 18, 2009Battelle Energy Alliance, LlcThermal synthesis apparatus
US8287814Feb 8, 2008Oct 16, 2012Battelle Energy Alliance, LlcChemical reactor for converting a first material into a second material
US8591821Apr 23, 2009Nov 26, 2013Battelle Energy Alliance, LlcCombustion flame-plasma hybrid reactor systems, and chemical reactant sources
USRE37853May 11, 2000Sep 24, 2002Betchel Bwxt Idaho, LlcFast quench reactor and method
EP0134780A2 *Aug 13, 1984Mar 20, 1985VOEST-ALPINE AktiengesellschaftProcess for preparing metals or alloys and apparatus therefor
Classifications
U.S. Classification75/10.19, 75/346, 427/252, 75/344
International ClassificationC23C16/14, C23C16/06, H01J37/32, C23C16/50, C23C16/513, B22F9/16, B22F9/18, C22B4/00, C22B34/00, C22B34/24
Cooperative ClassificationH01J37/32, C23C16/513, C22B34/24, C23C16/14, C22B4/005, B22F9/18
European ClassificationC22B34/24, B22F9/18, C23C16/513, C23C16/14, C22B4/00B, H01J37/32